Best campground for day tripping DC?

Discussion in 'Virginia' started by SubaruWx, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. SubaruWx

    SubaruWx New Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Taking the kids for their first trip to Washington DC in October. Looking for campgrounds that still allow a reasonable commute to see the sites in DC. Coming from NC, I'd rather stay in VA than drive all the way to MD. I almost always prefer NPS, rural state park, or national forest campgrounds. Electricity not required, but hot showers are required.

    Looking at Big Meadows in Shenandoah NP, Shenandoah River state park, and Prince William National Forest. Big Meadows seems very popular and a classic NPS experience. I can't seem to find much about the campgrounds in Prince William forest, but the location seems nice.

    Anyone have experience with any or all of these? Any other recommendations?
     
  2. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

    Messages:
    20,117
    Likes Received:
    3,097
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2002
    Location:
    Southeastern PA
    Check out Bull Run Regional Park. We had a rally there last year. Very close to DC
     
  3. Darn

    Darn Pup to Hybrid

    Messages:
    699
    Likes Received:
    20
    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2013
    Try Pohick Bay Regional Park, on the Potomic, play area....good reviews.
     
  4. speckhunter80

    speckhunter80 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,783
    Likes Received:
    69
    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2012
    Location:
    Shell Rock Landing, Hubert NC
  5. OkieCamper

    OkieCamper Member

    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    13
    Joined:
    May 15, 2015
    Lake Fairfax in Reston VA. While not A NP or NF experience I would suggest staying close to a metro line to get in/out of DC. You will spend a lot of time in DC, a lot of walking. There is so much to see. At the end of the day we just came back to campground, had something to eat, cleaned up and we're ready for bed. Did I say a lot of walking. We were so glad we didn't have a long drive at the end of the day. The metro is super easy to use.
     
  6. SubaruWx

    SubaruWx New Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    Thanks to all for the guidance. I have 3 nights at Big Meadows in Shenandoah NP and 3 nights at Lake Fairfax. I'll post reviews when we return.
     
  7. SubaruWx

    SubaruWx New Member

    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2013
    A much delayed review of Big Meadows and Lake Fairfax.

    Big Meadows is everything one might expect from the NPS experience. Lots of wonderful hiking, ranger presentations on local raptors for the kids, and coin operated hot showers. The NE side of the campground is heavily wooded and the bathrooms were rustic and clean. The newer, more open part of the campground had a wash station for dishes, but it wasn't that far a walk for me. Given the time of year, there were mostly big TTs, 5th wheels, and ClassA motor homes. There were a couple of popups, and even several tents on the other side of the campground. The deer were very friendly, and loved munching on the apples that had fallen from the tree just outside our PUP. In general, this is the kinda rustic camping I love. I'd go back to Big Meadows in a heartbeat.

    Lake Fairfax is at a county park that also has a water park and lots of athletic fields. Most of the campground is open, but there are a line of campsites along the far tree line. Most sites in the main loop have water and electric hookup. He sites along the tree line is where we stayed - there were compact but not on top of each other. The bathhouse is AMAZING. There are 8 or so large private bathrooms with attached showers. These bathroom stalls are huge - larger than my college dorm room. I could see then getting busy when the campground is full, but I was there during weekdays and I never had to wait for a shower. It's a nice campground, but certainly not camping in the woods. The biggest negative for me was the nearby athletic fields and skate park where folks played until 9pm. But it was a short drive to the Reston Metro stop, and it was a clean, well-run campground that was perfect for our day trips into DC.

    Thanks to folks here for helping me find these nice choices for our family camping vacation.
     
  8. Orchid

    Orchid Sharp Shootin' Grandma

    Messages:
    5,819
    Likes Received:
    2,744
    Joined:
    May 8, 2011
    Location:
    Florida by way of WV and MD
    I know I'm late to this party, but being from the DC Metro area, I thought I would weigh in with a couple of recommendations for future travelers.

    https://www.cherryhillpark.com/

    Cherry Hill is more of an urban type campground. Lots of RVs, but you can tent camp as well. Nice facilities and shuttles to DC or hop on the Metro buses that come right to the campground to get to a Metro stop. You can literally stay here, park your vehicle, and never drive anywhere until you are ready to leave.

    https://www.nps.gov/gree/index.htm

    Greenbelt Park is a National Park and very wooded and peaceful, once inside the park. However, it is most definitely the eye of an urban storm. There are no shuttles or buses that come to the park. Even so, there is a Metro station just a few miles away that you could drive to.
     
  9. idler

    idler Member

    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    1
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2016
    I was going to say that RV Family Travel Atlas Podcast recommended Cherry Hill and the shuttle sounded like a nice feature. I don't know which episode I heard it on.

    I lived in VA for 8 years, and I'd say that if you didn't learn to drive there then do ANYTHING you can to avoid driving in the area.
     

Share This Page